When I was growing up in the 1980’s our local bank was the centre of the community. Many people knew their Bank Manager by name and Cash Machines weren’t that common in small villages and towns, so you had to go into the branch to take out cash, pay in money or get a loan. My Mum would chat for ages with friends and neighbours whilst I played Top Trumps with my sister before we were dragged onto the bus for town.
Their mission was to help those in the local community to bring their great ideas to life and help them scale up into successful businesses. It offered a collaborative working space, workshops and mentoring to learn new skills and an in house Makerspace to enable rapid prototyping through Digital Fabrication. It also offered digital empowerment to different generations in the local community, whether that be a place where kids can learn to code or help the senior generation with digital transformation to the internet and digital banking.
Today they have 14 Eagle Labs, each focusing on a specialism. Anyone can use the space and facilities, but they are home to over 1000 resident entrepreneurs and 220 small start-ups.
The Cardiff Eagle Lab was officially opened on 31st Jan 2018. It has 120 desks and some office spaces for more established start-ups. It is a collaboration with Legal and General. It has an IoT focus and a MakerSpace and events program to support. Cardiff is a wonderful city undertaking lots of regeneration projects, it has a great university and lots of local talent. Initiatives like the Barclays Eagle Labs are helping keep and develop local talent and new business start-ups by offering the support and resources they might need to help them go into business, scale up and accelerate their growth locally and on into international markets.
Each Eagle Lab has a Lab Manager. Ash Croome looks after the lab at Cardiff and is on hand to help out those who would like support and advice to create a prototype.
The lab will be running a program of workshops and boot camps to help companies with IoT applications. It will also invite in local schools to learn how to make and code. A long way from my childhood experience of playing Top Trumps, making and coding would have been much more fun!
At the launch event on 31st Jan, over 150 people came along. There were tours of the DesignSpark Makerspace which included talks from Ashok Vaswani Barclays CEO UK, and Nigel Wilson CEO of Legal & General, both were excited by the what The Eagle Labs program can do to help new start-ups and entrepreneurs in the Cardiff area as well as others in the local community.
What I love about the Eagle Labs initiative is that it has a real sense of community, it’s not just a place for businesses, but it’s also a place to inspire the younger generation and help with the digital transformation of the older generation, in locations accessible to them all. It's also a recognisable brand that people know and trust.